Who Was the First King of Italy?

Who Was the First King of Italy?

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1887-1888 --- The Meeting of Garibaldi and King Victor Emmanuel II at Teano --- Image by © The Art Archive/Corbis

On 18 February 1861, Victor Emanuele, the soldier King of Piedmont-Sardinia, began to call himself the ruler of a united Italy after stunning success in unifying a country which had been divided since the sixth century.

A solid military leader, instigator of liberal reform and superb spotter of brilliant statesmen and generals, Victor Emanuele was a worthy man to hold this title.

Pre 1861

Until Emanuele “Italy” was a name from an ancient and glorious past that held little more meaning than “Yugoslavia” or “Britannia” do today. Ever since the fall of Justinian’s short-lived new Western Roman Empire, it had been divided between numerous nations who were often at each other’s throats.

In more recent memory, parts of the modern country had been owned by Spain, France and now the Austrian Empire, which still held sway over the north-eastern part of Italy. However, like its northern neighbour Germany, the divided nations of Italy did have some cultural and historical links, and – crucially – a shared language.

Italy in 1850 – a motley collection of states.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the most ambitious and forward-looking of these nations was Piedmont-Sardinia, a country which included Alpine north-western Italy and the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

After coming off worse in a confrontation with Napoleon at the end of the last century, the country had been reformed and its lands enlarged upon the defeat of the French in 1815.

The first tentative step towards some unification was taken in 1847, when Victor’s predecessor Charles Albert abolished all the administrative differences between the disparate parts of his realm, and introduced a new legal system that would underline the growth of the kingdom’s importance.

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Victor Emanuele’s early life

Victor Emanuele, meanwhile, was enjoying a youth spent in Florence, where he showed an early interest in politics, outdoor pursuits and war – all important for an active 19th-century King.

His life, however, was changed along with millions of others by the events of 1848, the year of revolutions that swept across Europe. As many Italians resented the degree of Austrian control in their country, there were major uprisings in Milan and Austrian-held Venetia.

Victor Emmanuel II, first King of United Italy.

Charles Albert was forced to make concessions to win the support of the new radical democrats, but – seeing an opportunity – gathered the support of the Papal States and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies to declare war on the tottering Austrian Empire.

Despite initial success, Charles was abandoned by his allies and suffered defeat against the rallying Austrians at the battles of Custoza and Novara – before signing a humiliating peace treaty and being forced to abdicate.

His son Victor Emanuele, who was not yet thirty but had fought at all the key battles, took the throne of a defeated country in his stead.

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Emanuele’s rule

Emanuele’s first important move was the appointment of the brilliant Count Camillo Benso of Cavour as his Prime Minister, and playing along perfectly with the fine balance between the monarchy and his British-style parliament.

His combination of ability and acceptance of the monarchy’s changing role made him uniquely popular amongst his subjects, and lead to other Italian states looking towards Piedmont with envy.

As the 1850s progressed, the growing calls for Italian Unification were centered around the young King of Piedmont, whose next clever move was convincing Cavour to join the Crimean War between an alliance of France and Britain and the Russian Empire, knowing that doing so would give Piedmont valuable allies for the future if any new struggle with Austria should arise.

Joining the Allies proved to be a vindicated decision as they were victorious, and it earned Emaneule French support for the coming wars.

A photo of the Count of Cavour in 1861 – he was a shrewd and wily political operator

They did not take long. Cavour, in one of his great political coups, made a secret agreement with Emperor Napoleon III of France, that if Austria and Piedmont were at war, then the French would join.

War with Austria

With this guaranteed, the Piedmontese forces then deliberately provoked Austria by conducting military manoeuvres on their Venetian border until Emperor Franz Josef’s government declared war and began to mobilise.

The French quickly poured over the Alps to assist their ally, and the decisive battle of the Second Italian War of Independence was fought at Solferino on the 24 June 1859. The Allies were victorious, and in the treaty that followed Piedmont gained most of Austrian Lombardy, including Milan, thus strengthening their hold on the north of Italy.

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The next year Cavour’s political skill secured Piedmont the allegiance of many more Austrian-owned cities in the centre of Italy, and the scene was set for a general takeover – starting with the old capital – Rome.

When Emanuele’s forces headed south, they soundly defeated the Pope’s Roman armies and annexed the central Italian countryside, whilst the King gave his support to the famous soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi’s mad expedition south to conquer the Two Sicilies.

Miraculously, he was successful with his Expedition of the Thousand, and as success followed success every major Italian nation voted to join forces with the Piedmontese.

Garibaldi and Cavour making Italy in a satirical cartoon of 1861; the boot is a well-known reference to the shape of the Italian Peninsula.

Emaunele met with Garibaldi at Teano and the general handed over command of the south, meaning that he could now call himself King of Italy. He was formally crowned by the new Italian parliament on the 17 March, but had been known as the King since the 18 February.

Garibaldi bearing the new Italian flag of unification in Sicily. He and his followers were famous for wearing baggy red shirts as an unorthodox uniform.

The job was not yet finished, for Rome – which was defended by French forces – would not fall until 1871. But a landmark moment in history had been reached as the ancient and divided nations of Italy found a man and a leader that they could rally behind for the first time in over a thousand years.

Who Was the World's First King?

For much of human history, kings – male monarchs – wielded most of civilization's power. Men like William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan and Tutankhamun were incredibly important. From taxation to religious matters to warfare, kings had the final say on vital matters of every kind.

Given the significance of these men, it's reasonable to wonder: who was the world's very first king?

The answer, it seems, may be lost to the dust of history, simply because written records of the first king may not have survived time. It is, then, "possibly, an unanswerable question," says Mark Munn, a history professor at Penn State University, by email.

The primary challenge, of course, is that there are no complete historical records documenting kings who lived 5,000 years ago. There's also the matter of which ancient words referred to what we think of as kings. In the area around Egypt, for example, the word "pharaoh" didn't come into use until perhaps 1570 B.C.E.

The Sumerian King List

Some historians say that Egypt may lay claim to the world's first king, perhaps Iry-Hor or Namer. They point to the Sumerian King List, an ancient manuscript filled with the kings – real and fictitious – who once ruled the area around modern day Iraq. This text, discovered in the early 20th century, is so old that its first "pages" are inscribed on cuneiform tablets.

"According to a later Mesopotamian tradition enshrined in the Sumerian King List, the first king was Alulim, ruler of the city of Eridu. He lived in the mythological time before the deluge and is credited (in some manuscripts) with a reign of 28,000 years," says Eckart Frahm, professor of Near Eastern languages and civilizations at Yale University, via email. "According to the same source, the first king after the deluge was a certain Gushur, who is said to have ruled in the city of Kish for 1,200 years." The Sumerian King List has some remarkable similarities to the early chapters of Genesis, including a story of a great flood or deluge, which in the Bible involved Noah's ark.

The Sumerian King List is anything but literal. It blends reality with mythology thus, the kings supposedly had reigns lasting tens of thousands of years.

"Many of the individuals mentioned in the first sections of the Sumerian King List are, however, clearly fictitious figures, and this may well apply to the . aforementioned ones [Gushur and Alulim]," says Frahm.

"Among the first rulers whose names are documented in contemporary written sources are Me (or Ishib)-baragesi of Kish, Akka-Inannaka of Umma and a certain HAR.TU (exact pronunciation unknown) of the city of PA.GAR (modern Tell Agrab). They probably ruled around 2700-2600 B.C.E."

Me-baragesi is called the first ruler of Mesopotamia (circa 2700 B.C.E.), and our evidence of his rule comes from inscriptions found on vase fragments. As the leader of Kish, a northern Babylonian city, he reportedly defeated Elam, a civilization found in what's now Iran, and then went on to lead his people for 900 years. Not including the ridiculous life span, Me-baragesi might be the first king in history.

But he's not the only claimant to this title.

"The first ruler whose reign we can somewhat see is that of the person buried in Tomb U-j at Abydos," says John Darnell, Egyptology professor at Yale University, via email. This tomb dates to about 3320 B.C.E. "Chronologically he appears to have been the first ruler of what we call Dynasty 0, the unified kingdom of Upper Egypt whose last ruler, Narmer, consolidates Upper Egyptian control of the north and establishes the First Dynasty.

"The oldest surviving element of identifiable royal regalia, a crook of the standard Egyptian crook and flail pair, was actually found during the re-excavation of the tomb by the German Archaeological Institute in Egypt (DAIK). The burial also contained numerous examples of marking systems, prominent amongst these a series of inscribed bone labels."

King Scorpion

Darnell says that researchers are still trying to decipher various parts of their findings, which may represent some of humankind's earliest forms of writing. Ultimately, they may point to an important battle that took place, one that gave rise to a unified civilization, led by a man who might – or might not – have been called Scorpion. (A tableau Darnell discovered at the site Gebel Tjauti, in the Theban Western Desert in Egypt, shows a carving of a scorpion above a falcon, a symbol that either means "king" or the god Horus in Egyptian history.)

Darnell, who has spent decades studying Egyptian history, says that "Scorpion" is "the earliest ruler for whom I believe we can suggest a designation, if not a personal name, for whose reign we can see events, and whose physical aspects have somewhat survived in his burial in Tomb U-j."

Darnell also says another inscription his team discovered points to early royalty. The large scale el-Khawy inscription is also of the same date paleographically, as Gebel Tjauti and demonstrates a monumental use of hieroglyphs at the start of the script.

"That inscription does appear to contain one definite phonetic sign value — akh, "luminosity," for the sign of the bald ibis," he says. "The inscription also makes a statement equating royal power with solar order, and thus is the first expression of divine kingship."

Indeed, many early kings claimed authority from the gods as justification for ruling. Frahm adds that many Mesopotamian kings even said they were gods but that notion was eventually discarded "perhaps because rulers often appeared all too human in the eyes of their subjects."

As to where the idea of kingship even came from, Frahm believes that was directly tied to a need to organize labor. In ancient Mesopotamia, there were large numbers of construction workers, farmers, craftsmen, shepherds and sellers of goods.

"To get this all done, a managerial class emerged – and syphoned off a share of the rural wealth for its own good," he says. "The person at the head of the administrative ladder – and possibly also of the military troops needed to protect the economic activities facilitated in this way – would eventually be considered 'king.' To legitimize the economic inequality inherent in the system, a royal ideology was created that promoted kingship as a divinely sanctioned institution."


Territory Edit

The Kingdom of Italy claimed all of the territory which covers present-day Italy and even more. The development of the Kingdom's territory progressed under Italian re-unification until 1870. The state for a long period of time did not include Trieste or Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, which were annexed in 1919 and remain Italian territories today. The Triple Entente promised to grant to Italy – if the state joined the Allies in World War I – several territories including former Austrian Littoral, western parts of former Duchy of Carniola, Northern Dalmatia and notably Zara, Šibenik and most of the Dalmatian islands (except Krk and Rab), according to the secret London Pact of 1915. [4]

After the compromise was nullified under pressure of President Woodrow Wilson with the Treaty of Versailles, Italian claims on Northern Dalmatia were voided. During World War II, the Kingdom gained additional territory: it gained Corsica, Nizza and Savoia from France after its surrender in 1940, territory in Slovenia and Dalmatia from Yugoslavia after its breakup in 1941 and Monaco in 1942. After World War II, the borders of present-day Italy were founded and the Kingdom abandoned its land claims. [5]

The Italian Empire also gained territory until the end of World War II through colonies, protectorates, military occupations and puppet states. These included Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, Libya, Ethiopia (occupied by Italy from 1936 to 1941), Albania, British Somaliland, Greece (occupied in World War II), Tunisia, Croatia (Italian and German client state in World War II), Kosovo (occupied in World War II), Montenegro (occupied in World War II) and a 46-hectare concession from China in Tianjin (see Italian concession in Tianjin). [6]

Government Edit

The Kingdom of Italy was theoretically a constitutional monarchy. Executive power belonged to the monarch, who exercised his power through appointed ministers. The legislative branch was a bicameral Parliament comprising an appointive Senate and an elective Chamber of Deputies. The kingdom's constitution was the Statuto Albertino, the former governing document of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In theory, ministers were solely responsible to the king. However, by this time it was impossible for a king to appoint a government entirely of his own choosing or keep it in office, against the express will of Parliament.

Members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected by plurality voting system elections in uninominal districts. A candidate needed the support of 50% of those voting and of 25% of all enrolled voters to be elected on the first round of balloting. If not all seats were filled on the first ballot, a runoff was held shortly afterwards for the remaining vacancies.

After a brief multinominal experimentation in 1882, proportional representation into large, regional, multi-seat electoral constituencies was introduced after World War I. Socialists became the major party, but they were unable to form a government in a parliament split into three different factions, with Christian populists and classical liberals. Elections took place in 1919, 1921 and 1924: in this last occasion, Mussolini abolished proportional representation, replacing it with the Acerbo Law, by which the party that won the largest share of the votes got two-thirds of the seats, which gave the Fascist Party an absolute majority of the Chamber seats.

Between 1925 and 1943, Italy was a quasi-de jure Fascist dictatorship, as the constitution formally remained in effect without alteration by the Fascists, though the monarchy also formally accepted Fascist policies and Fascist institutions. Changes in politics occurred, consisting of the establishment of the Grand Council of Fascism as a government body in 1928, which took control of the government system, as well as the Chamber of Deputies being replaced with the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations as of 1939.

Monarchs Edit

The monarchs of the House of Savoy who led Italy were:

    (r. 1861–1878) – last King of Sardinia and first king of united Italy (r. 1878–1900) – approved the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, assassinated in 1900 by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci (r. 1900–1946) – King of Italy during the First World War and during the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini (r. 1946) – the last King of Italy who was pressured to call a referendum on whether Italy would retain the monarchy, but Italians voted to become a republic instead of a constitutional monarchy

Military structure Edit

    – supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Navy and later Air Force from 1861 to 1938 and 1943 to 1946 – supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Air Force, Navy and the Voluntary Militia for National Security from 1938 to 1943 during the Fascist era, held by both Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini
  • Regio Esercito (Royal Army)
  • Regia Marina (Royal Navy)
  • Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force)
  • Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (Voluntary Militia for National Security also known as the "Blackshirts") – militia loyal to Mussolini during the Fascist era, abolished in 1943.

Unification process (1848–1870) Edit

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of concerted efforts of Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula.

After the Revolutions of 1848, the apparent leader of the Italian unification movement was Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, renowned for his extremely loyal followers. [7] Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in Southern Italy, but the Northern Italy monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia, a state with an important Italian population, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state. Though the Kingdom had no physical connection to Rome (seen by all as the natural capital of Italy, but still capital of the Papal States), the Kingdom had successfully challenged Austria in the Second Italian War of Independence, liberating Lombardy-Venetia from Austrian rule. The Kingdom also had established important alliances which helped it improve the possibility of Italian unification, such as with the United Kingdom and France in the Crimean War. Sardinia was dependent on French protection and in 1860 Sardinia was forced to cede territory to France to maintain relations, including Garibaldi's birthplace, Nizza.

Cavour moved to challenge republican unification efforts by Garibaldi by organizing popular revolts in the Papal States and used these revolts as a pretext to invade the country, even though the invasion angered the Roman Catholics, whom he told that the invasion was an effort to protect the Roman Catholic Church from the anti-clerical secularist nationalist republicans of Garibaldi. Only a small portion of the Papal States around Rome remained in the control of Pope Pius IX. [8] Despite their differences, Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860. Subsequently, the Parliament declared the creation of the Kingdom of Italy on 18 February 1861 (officially proclaiming it on 17 March 1861) [9] composed of both Northern Italy and Southern Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy was then declared King of Italy, though he did not renumber himself with the assumption of the new title. This title had been out of use since the abdication of Napoleon I of France on 6 April 1814.

Following the unification of most of Italy, tensions between the royalists and republicans erupted. In April 1861, Garibaldi entered the Italian parliament and challenged Cavour's leadership of the government, accusing him of dividing Italy and spoke of the threat of civil war between the Kingdom in the North and Garibaldi's forces in the South. On 6 June 1861, the Kingdom's strongman Cavour died. During the ensuing political instability, Garibaldi and the republicans became increasingly revolutionary in tone. Garibaldi's arrest in 1862 set off worldwide controversy. [10]

In 1866, Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of Prussia, offered Victor Emmanuel II an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War. In exchange, Prussia would allow Italy to annex Austrian-controlled Veneto. King Emmanuel agreed to the alliance and the Third Italian War of Independence began. Italy fared poorly in the war with a badly-organized military against Austria, but Prussia's victory allowed Italy to annex Veneto. At this point, one major obstacle to Italian unity remained: Rome.

In 1870, Prussia went to war with France, igniting the Franco-Prussian War. To keep the large Prussian Army at bay, France abandoned its positions in Rome – which protected the remnants of the Papal States and Pius IX – in order to fight the Prussians. Italy benefited from Prussia's victory against France by being able to take over the Papal States from French authority. Rome was captured by the Kingdom of Italy after several battles and guerrilla-like warfare by Papal Zouaves and official troops of the Holy See against the Italian invaders. Italian unification was completed and shortly afterward Italy's capital was moved to Rome. Economic conditions in the united Italy were poor. [11] There were no industry or transportation facilities, extreme poverty (especially in the "Mezzogiorno"), high illiteracy and only a small percent of wealthy Italians had the right to vote. The unification movement had largely been dependent on the support of foreign powers and remained so afterwards.

Following the capture of Rome in 1870 from French forces of Napoleon III, Papal troops and Zouaves, relations between Italy and the Vatican remained sour for the next sixty years with the Popes declaring themselves to be prisoners in the Vatican. The Roman Catholic Church frequently protested the actions of the secular and anticlerical-influenced Italian governments, refused to meet with envoys from the King and urged Roman Catholics not to vote in Italian elections. [12] It would not be until 1929 that positive relations would be restored between the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican after the signing of the Lateran Pacts.

Unifying multiple bureaucracies Edit

A major challenge for the prime ministers of the new Kingdom of Italy was integrating the political and administrative systems of the seven different major components into a unified set of policies. The different regions were proud of their own historic patterns and could not easily be fitted into the Sardinian model. Cavour started the planning, but died before it was fully developed – indeed, the challenges of administration the various bureaucracies are thought to have hastened his death. The easiest challenge was to harmonize the administrative bureaucracies of Italy's regions. They practically all followed the Napoleonic precedent, so harmonization was straightforward. The second challenge was to develop a parliamentary system. Cavour and most liberals up and down the peninsula highly admired the British system, so it became the model for Italy to this day. Harmonizing the Army and Navy were much more complex, chiefly because the systems of recruiting soldiers and selecting and promoting officers were so different and needed to be grandfathered in over decades. The disorganization helps explain why the Italian naval performance in the 1866 war was so abysmal. The military system was slowly integrated over several decades. The multiple educational system likewise proved complicated for there were few common elements. Shortly before his death, Cavour appointed Francesco De Sanctis as minister of education. De Sanctis was an eminent scholar from the University of Naples who proved an able and patient administrator. The addition of Veneto in 1866 and Rome in 1870 further complicated the challenges of bureaucratic coordination. [13]

Culture and society Edit

Italian society after unification and throughout most of the Liberal Period was sharply divided along class, linguistic, regional and social lines. [14] The north–south divide is still present.

On 20 September 1870, the military forces of the King of Italy overthrew what little was left of the Papal States, capturing in particular the city of Rome. The following year, the capital was moved from Florence to Rome. For the next 59 years after 1870, the Church denied the legitimacy of the Italian King's dominion in Rome, which it claimed rightfully belonged to the Papal States. In 1929, the dispute was settled by the Lateran Treaty, in which the King recognized Vatican City as an independent state and paid a large sum of money to compensate the Church for the loss of the Papal States.

Liberal governments generally followed a policy of limiting the role of the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy as the state confiscated church lands. [15] Similar policies were supported by such anticlerical and secular movements as republicanism, socialism, anarchism, [16] Freemasonry, [17] Lazzarettism [18] and Protestantism.

Common cultural traits in Italy in this time were social conservative in nature, including a strong belief in the family as an institution and patriarchal values. In other areas, Italian culture was divided: aristocrats and upper middle class families in Italy at this time were highly traditional in nature and they emphasized honor above all, with challenges to honor ending in duels. After unification, a number of descendants of former royal nobility became residents of Italy, comprising 7,400 noble families. Many wealthy landowners maintained a feudal-like tight control over "their" peasants. Italian society in this period remained highly divided along regional and local sub-societies which often had historical rivalries with each other. [19]

In 1860, Italy lacked a single national language: toscano (Tuscan), which is what we now know as Italian, was only used as a literary language and in Tuscany, while outside other languages were dominant. Even the kingdom's first king, Victor Emmanuel II, was known to speak almost entirely in Piedmontese [ citation needed ] and French, even to his cabinet ministers. Illiteracy was high, with the 1871 census indicating that 61.9% of Italian men were illiterate and 75.7% of Italian women were illiterate. This illiteracy rate was far higher than that of western European countries in the same time period and also no national popular press was possible due to the multiplicity of regional languages. [20]

Italy had very few public schools upon unification, so the Italian government in the Liberal Period attempted to increase literacy by establishing state-funded schools to teach the official Italian language. [21]

Living standards were low during the Liberal Period, especially in southern Italy, due to various diseases such as malaria and epidemics that occurred during the period. As a whole, there was initially a high death rate in 1871 at 30 people dying per 1,000 people, though this reduced to 24.2 per 1,000 by the 1890s. In addition, the mortality rate of children dying in their first year after birth in 1871 was 22.7 percent while the number of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday was very high at 50 percent. The mortality rate of children dying in their first year after birth decreased to an average of 17.6 percent in the time period of 1891 to 1900. [22]

Economy Edit

In terms of the entire period, Giovanni Federico has argued that Italy was not economically backward, for there was substantial development at various times between 1860 and 1940. Unlike most modern nations that relied on large corporations, industrial growth in Italy was a product of the entrepreneurial efforts of small, family-owned firms that succeeded in a local competitive environment. [23]

Political unification did not systematically bring economic integration, as Italy faced serious economic problems and economic division along political, social and regional lines. In the Liberal Period, Italy remained highly economically dependent on foreign trade and the international price of coal and grain. [24]

Upon unifying, Italy had a predominantly agrarian society as 60% of the active population worked in agriculture. Advances in technology, the sale of vast Church estates, foreign competition along with export opportunities rapidly transformed the agricultural sector in Italy shortly after unification. However, these developments did not benefit all of Italy in this period, as southern Italy's agriculture suffered from hot summers and aridity damaged crops while the presence of malaria prevented cultivation of low-lying areas along Italy's Adriatic Sea coast. [25]

The overwhelming attention paid to foreign policy alienated the agricultural community in Italy which had been in decline since 1873. Both radical and conservative forces in the Italian parliament demanded that the government investigate how to improve agriculture in Italy. The investigation, which started in 1877 and was released eight years later, showed that agriculture was not improving, that landowners were earning revenue from their lands and contributing almost nothing to the development of the land. Lower class Italians were hurt by the break-up of communal lands to the benefit of landlords. Most of the workers on the agricultural lands were not peasants, but short-term laborers ("braccianti") who at best were employed for one year. Peasants without stable income were forced to live off of meager food supplies, disease was spreading rapidly and plagues were reported, including a major cholera epidemic which killed at least 55,000 people. [26]

The Italian government could not deal with the situation effectively because of overspending that left Italy heavily in debt. Italy also suffered economically as a consequence of overproduction of grapes by their vineyards. In the 1870s and 1880s, France's vineyard industry was suffering from vine disease caused by insects. Italy prospered as the largest exporter of wine in Europe, but following the recovery of France in 1888 Southern Italy was overproducing and had to cut back, which caused greater unemployment and bankruptcies. [27]

The Italian government invested heavily in developing railways in the 1870s, more than doubling the existing length of railway line between 1870 and 1890. [24]

"Il Mezzogiorno" (Southern Italy) Edit

Italy's population remained severely divided between wealthy elites and impoverished workers, especially in the South. An 1881 census found that over 1 million southern day-laborers were chronically under-employed and were very likely to become seasonal emigrants in order to economically sustain themselves. [28] Southern peasants as well as small landowners and tenants often were in a state of conflict and revolt throughout the late 19th century. [29] There were exceptions to the generally poor economic condition of agricultural workers of the South, as some regions near cities such as Naples and Palermo as well as along the Tyrrhenian Sea coast. [28]

From the 1870s onward, intellectuals, scholars and politicians examined the economic and social conditions of Southern Italy ("Il Mezzogiorno"), a movement known as meridionalismo ("Meridionalism"). For example, the 1910 Commission of Inquiry into the South indicated that the Italian government thus far had failed to ameliorate the severe economic differences and the limitation of voting rights only to those with sufficient property allowed rich landowners to exploit the poor. [30]

Liberal era of politics (1870–1914) Edit

After unification, Italy's politics favored liberalism: [a] the liberal-conservative right (destra storica or Historical Right) was regionally fragmented [b] and liberal-conservative Prime Minister Marco Minghetti only held on to power by enacting revolutionary and left-leaning policies (such as the nationalization of railways) to appease the opposition.

Agostino Depretis Edit

In 1876, Minghetti was ousted and replaced by liberal Agostino Depretis, who began the long Liberal Period. The Liberal Period was marked by corruption, government instability, continued poverty in Southern Italy and use of authoritarian measures by the Italian government.

Depretis began his term as Prime Minister by initiating an experimental political notion known as trasformismo ("transformism"). The theory of trasformismo was that a cabinet should select a variety of moderates and capable politicians from a non-partisan perspective. In practice, trasformismo was authoritarian and corrupt as Depretis pressured districts to vote for his candidates, if they wished to gain favourable concessions from Depretis when in power. The results of the Italian general election of 1876 resulted in only four representatives from the right being elected, allowing the government to be dominated by Depretis. Despotic and corrupt actions are believed to be the key means in which Depretis managed to keep support in Southern Italy. Depretis put through authoritarian measures, such as banning public meetings, placing "dangerous" individuals in internal exile on remote penal islands across Italy and adopting militarist policies. Depretis enacted controversial legislation for the time, such as abolishing arrest for debt, making elementary education free and compulsory while ending compulsory religious teaching in elementary schools. [31]

In 1887, Francesco Crispi became Prime Minister and began focusing government efforts on foreign policy. Crispi worked to build Italy as a great world power through increased military expenditures, advocacy of expansionism [32] and trying to win the favor of Germany. Italy joined the Triple Alliance which included both Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1882 and which remained officially intact until 1915. While helping Italy develop strategically, he continued trasformismo and became authoritarian, once suggesting the use of martial law to ban opposition parties. [33] Despite being authoritarian, Crispi put through liberal policies such as the Public Health Act of 1888 and establishing tribunals for redress against abuses by the government. [34]

Francesco Crispi Edit

Francesco Crispi was Prime Minister for a total of six years, from 1887 until 1891 and again from 1893 until 1896. Historian R. J. B. Bosworth says of his foreign policy:

Crispi pursued policies whose openly aggressive character would not be equaled until the days of the Fascist regime. Crispi increased military expenditure, talked cheerfully of a European conflagration, and alarmed his German or British friends with this suggestions of preventative attacks on his enemies. His policies were ruinous, both for Italy's trade with France, and, more humiliatingly, for colonial ambitions in Eastern Africa. Crispi's lust for territory there was thwarted when on 1 March 1896, the armies of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik routed Italian forces at Adowa [. ] an unparalleled disaster for a modern army. Crispi, whose private life (he was perhaps a trigamist) and personal finances [. ] were objects of perennial scandal, went into dishonorable retirement. [35]

Crispi greatly admired the United Kingdom, but was unable to get British assistance for his aggressive foreign policy and turned instead to Germany. [36] Crispi also enlarged the army and navy and advocated expansionism as he sought Germany's favor by joining the Triple Alliance which included both Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1882. It remained officially intact until 1915 and prevented hostilities between Italy and Austria, which controlled border regions that Italy claimed.

Colonialism Edit

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Italy emulated the Great Powers in acquiring colonies, especially in the scramble to take control of Africa that took place in the 1870s. Italy was weak in military and economic resources in comparison with Britain, France and Germany, but it proved difficult due to popular resistance and it was unprofitable due to heavy military costs and the lesser economic value of spheres of influence remaining when Italy began to colonize. Britain was eager to block French influence and assisted Italy in gaining territory of the Red Sea. [37]

A number of colonial projects were undertaken by the government. These were done to gain support of Italian nationalists and imperialists, who wanted to rebuild a Roman Empire. Italy had already large settlements in Alexandria, Cairo and Tunis. Italy first attempted to gain colonies through negotiations with other world powers to make colonial concessions, but these negotiations failed. Italy also sent missionaries to uncolonized lands to investigate the potential for Italian colonization. The most promising and realistic of these were parts of Africa. Italian missionaries had already established a foothold at Massawa (in present-day Eritrea) in the 1830s and had entered deep into the Ethiopian Empire. [38]

The beginning of colonialism came in 1885, shortly after the fall of Egyptian rule in Khartoum, when Italy landed soldiers at Massawa in East Africa. In 1888, Italy annexed Massawa by force, creating the colony of Italian Eritrea. The Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab handled trade with Italy and Ethiopia. The trade was promoted by the low duties paid on Italian trade. Italy exported manufactured products and imported coffee, beeswax and hides. [39] At the same time, Italy occupied territory on the south side of the horn of Africa, forming what would become Italian Somaliland.

The Treaty of Wuchale, signed in 1889, stated in the Italian language version that Ethiopia was to become an Italian protectorate, while the Ethiopian Amharic language version stated that the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II could go through Italy to conduct foreign affairs. This happened presumably due to the mistranslation of a verb, which formed a permissive clause in Amharic and a mandatory one in Italian. [40] When the differences in the versions came to light, in 1895 Menelik II abrogated the treaty and abandoned the agreement to follow Italian foreign policy Italy used this renunciation as a reason to invade Ethiopia. [41] Ethiopia gained the help of the Russian Empire, whose own interests in East Africa led the government of Nicholas II of Russia to send large amounts of modern weaponry to the Ethiopians to hold back an Italian invasion. In response, Britain decided to back the Italians to challenge Russian influence in Africa and declared that all of Ethiopia was within the sphere of Italian interest. On the verge of war, Italian militarism and nationalism reached a peak, with Italians flocking to the Royal Italian Army, hoping to take part in the upcoming war. [42]

The Italian army failed on the battlefield and was overwhelmed by a huge Ethiopian army at the Battle of Adwa. At that point, the Italian invasion force was forced to retreat into Eritrea. The war formally ended with the Treaty of Addis Ababa in 1896, which abrogated the Treaty of Wuchale recognizing Ethiopia as an independent country. The failed Ethiopian campaign was one of the few military victories scored by the Africans against an imperial power at this time. [43]

From 2 November 1899 to 7 September 1901, Italy participated as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance forces during the Boxer Rebellion in China. On 7 September 1901, a concession in Tientsin was ceded to the Italy by the Qing Dynasty. On 7 June 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by an Italian consul.

In 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire and invaded Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. These provinces together formed what became known as Libya. The war ended only one year later, but the occupation resulted in acts of discrimination against Libyans such as the forced deportation of Libyans to the Tremiti Islands in October 1911. By 1912, one third of these Libyan refugees had died from a lack of food and shelter. [44] The annexation of Libya led nationalists to advocate Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea by occupying Greece and the Adriatic Sea coastal region of Dalmatia. [45]


Alulim was an antediluvian ruler in the Sumerian myth. His reign is not considered historical but is still relevant enough that it deserves mention. It is the first known mention of a ruler, however vague it may be. The mention of rulers in these texts is mostly mythical, and it is hard to determine how long they have ruled since the Sumerians used different numerical units than we do today.

Alulim is mentioned as the first king of Eridu and Sumer, according to the Sumerian King List. He was appointed ruler right after the god Enki brought civilization to Sumer. He is mentioned as having descended from heaven and ruled in Eridu, the earliest city in Mesopotamia. Most modern scholars draw parallels between Alulim and the biblical Adam and consider him fictional.

Italian History

taly is a land steeped in history and culture. Cities and towns throughout its length and breadth bear endless witness to this through their palaces, fortifications and archaeological parks.

When united, its peoples looked abroad and carved territories for themselves from the lands of their neighbours, enriching the country and leading to a wave of opulent construction. When divided, Italy was a place of rich pickings, easily invaded from the sea by any power in possession of a Mediterranean harbour from which a fleet could be launched.

The Italian landscape is strewn with the buildings these invaders erected to secure their control and dominance over their new possessions.

Italy’s long history is dominated by three periods, the three R’s:

The Roman Empire: during these centuries Italy was the centre of one of the largest empires the world has ever seen, and the wealth that poured into the peninsula led to the creation of some of the most magnificent monuments of the Ancient World.

The Renaissance: a time of outstanding artistic and cultural achievement in which Italy led the rest of Europe. Some of the most iconic Italian paintings, sculptures and buildings were commissioned at this time, and the seeds for a future Italian state were sown when the modern Italian language was developed by Dante Alighieri.

The Risorgimento: the fifty or so years leading up to 1871, during which people throughout the Italian peninsula and associated islands began to successfully agitate for the removal of foreign influence and the creation of a single Italian state, which would soon become one of the major powers in the world.

These three periods are rightly seen as the definitive moments of Italian history, but the time in between them was a fractious and fascinating one, and this very brief overview of some of its key moments is intended to set them in a basic context:

c.48,000 BC Neanderthal Man arrives in the Italian peninsula

c.32,000 BC Homo Sapiens arrives in the Italian peninsula.

c.6000 BC Neolithic revolution: appearance of first farming communities.

c.2500-1500 BC A series of migrations into the Italian peninsula brings new cultures, languages and forms of metalworking, and creates the basis for the pre-Roman civilizations.

8th Century BC Foundation of the first wave of Greek and Phoenician colonies in Sicily, Southern Italy and Sardinia. The Etruscan civilization appears in central Italy.

753 BC The traditional date for the foundation of Rome.

509 BC The traditional date for the ending of monarchical control in Rome and the foundation of the Roman Republic.

390 BC The traditional date for the sack of Rome by Gauls from Northern Italy.

341-290 BC The Romans fight three wars against the tribes of Samnium to the south-east of Rome. Victory gives them control of all of central Italy.

272-265 BC The Romans conquer Southern Italy.

264-241 BC The First Punic War: Rome defeats Carthage and seizes western Sicily, followed soon after by Sardinia and Corsica.

219-202 BC The Second Punic War: Carthage invades Italy, and is only narrowly defeated. Rome seizes the rest of Sicily and begins to gain control over Spain.

200-188 BC Rome invades the East, defeating Philip V of Macedonia and Antiochos III of Syria, and becomes the most powerful force in the Mediterranean.

91-88 BC Civil war breaks out in the Italian peninsula, caused in part by Italian dissatisfaction with the distribution of the benefits of Empire. Rome wins, but Roman citizenship is extended to most Italians.

58-50 BC Julius Caesar conquers Gaul and invades Britain.

49-30 BC Civil war tears the Roman world apart. The first round ends with the victory of Caesar, who is declared Dictator for Life and then assassinated. The Civil Wars continue until Octavian (soon to be renamed Augustus) defeats Antony and Cleopatra and conquers Egypt.

AD 14 Augustus dies and Tiberius becomes Emperor. The Roman Republic has ended, and the Roman world will be ruled by Emperors until it is destroyed.

330 Constantinople is founded and the division of the Roman world into an Eastern and a Western Empire gathers momentum.

410 Rome is sacked by Alaric, King of the Visigoths.

476-493 Odoacer, a German, becomes the first non-Roman to rule the Italian peninsula, but is defeated and killed by Theoderic, King of the Ostrogoths, whose dynasty rules Italy until 535.

535-554 The Byzantine Empire reconquers the Italian peninsula, devastating much of it in the process, but soon loses control of most of the interior. Italy is divided between North and South for much of the following five centuries, and is continually invaded by Arabic forces and wracked by internal conflicts.

999-1139 The Normans arrive in Italy and carve out a kingdom in the South, defeating the Arabs and Byzantines in the process. At the same time, the great maritime republics of Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice begin their rise to economic and military power.

1494-1559 The “Italian Wars” involve most of the Italian states, as well as the major European powers, and occur at the same time as the flowering of the Italian Renaissance. When they had finished, much of Northern Italy had been devastated and foreign powers controlled much of the peninsula.

1559-1814 Northern Italy is dominated in turn by Habsburg Spain, Habsburg Austria and the French Republic, while Southern Italy is controlled by the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily.

1816-1871 The Risorgimento, or unification of Italy, takes place in fits and starts, and in 1861 Victor Emmanuel II is declared King of Italy (minus Rome and the Venetia) in Turin. In 1866 the Venetia is annexed, and Rome is taken in 1870, becoming the official capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1871.

1915-1918 In spite of having been allied to Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire since 1882, Italy eventually enters the war in 1915 on the side of the Allies, gaining several territories in the North-East, but bankrupting the country in the process.

1922-1946 Benito Mussolini’s Fascist party comes to power and begins to expand overseas, conquering Ethiopia and Albania and allying with Germany in World War II. Having surrendered in 1943, Italy is the scene of a vicious campaign as the Germans try to hold off the advancing allied armies. When the war ends in 1945, much of the Centre and North of the country lies devastated. In 1946 a referendum leads to the end of the Kingdom of Italy, the creation of the Republic of Italy, and the expulsion of King Emmanuel III and his son Umberto II.

1946- The Italian economy grows strongly in the post-war decades, but rising political tensions from the 1970s lead to the assassination of an ex-prime minister (Aldo Moro) and a series of political scandals revolving around corruption. The political circus continues, but so does the tradition of innovation, development and entrepreneurship. Italy continually seems to be on the verge of one crisis or other, but continually survives, often with panache.

A History of Italy in Brief

In many ways, the history of Italy is the history of the modern world. So many pivotal moments in our collective past have taken place in Italy that it can be considered Europe’s historical keystone. In this section, learn about the great and not so great moments in Italian history, from the grandeur of Rome to the Renaissance, the Risorgimento and the battlefields of World War II.

Brief History of Italy

By 500 BC, a number of peoples of different ethnicity and origin shared Italy. Small Greek colonies dotted the southern coast and the island of Sicily. Gauls, ancestors of today’s modern French, roamed the mountainous north. While the Etruscans, a group originally hailing from somewhere in western Turkey, settled in central Italy, establishing a number of city-states, including what is now modern-day Bologna. Little is known about the Etruscans except that they thrived for a time, creating a civilization that would pass down a fondness for bold architecture (stone arches, paved streets, aqueducts, sewers) to its successor, Rome.

The Capitoline she-wolf, symbol of Rome (wikimedia)

According to legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, twin brothers who claimed to be sons of the war god Mars and to have been raised as infants by a she-wolf. Romulus saw himself as a descendant of the defeated army of Troy, and wanted Rome to inherit the mantle of that ancient city, if not surpass it. When Remus laughed at the notion, Romulus killed his brother and declared himself the first king of Rome.

Rome went through seven kings until 509 BC when the last king was overthrown and the Roman Republic was formed. Rome then came to be ruled by two elected officials (known as consuls), a Senate made up of wealthy aristocrats (known as patricians), and a lower assembly that represented the common people (plebeians) and had limited power. This format of government worked well at first, but as Rome expanded beyond a mere city-state to take over territory not just in Italy, but overseas as well, the system of government came under severe strain.

By the First Century BC, Rome was in crisis. Spartacus, a slave, led the common people in a revolt against the rule of the aristocratic patricians. Rome was able to put down the rebellion, but at great cost, as the Republic dissolved into a series of military dictatorships that ended with the assassination of Julius Caesar.

In 29 BC, after a long power struggle, Julius Caesar’s nephew, Octavius, seized power and declared himself Emperor Augustus. The Roman Empire was born. For the next two hundred years, Rome thrived, ruling over a vast territory stretching from Britain and the Atlantic coast of Europe in the north and west to North Africa and the Middle East in the south and east.

This Pax Romana, a time of peace, ended in 180 AD with the death of Marcus Aurelius. A combination of economic problems, barbarian invasions, domestic instability, and territorial rebellions, combined with a lack of strong leadership, resulted in the slow and gradual decline of Rome. In 380 AD, after three hundred years of persecution, Christianity became the one and only official religion. By the end of the Fourth Century AD, the Roman Empire split into two. The East, based out of the newly-built capital of Constantinople, in what is now Turkey, thrived, eventually becoming the long-lasting Byzantine Empire. Rome, capital of the West, continued to decline.

In 410 AD, Rome itself was sacked by barbarian hordes. The Eastern Empire invaded but failed to restore order and had to withdraw. The Roman Empire in the West completely collapsed by the end of the 5th AD century. For the next thousand years, Italy once again became a patchwork of city-states, with Rome, home to the Catholic Church, being the most powerful. This long period of quiet stagnation was known as the Dark Ages.

Prosperity did not return to Italy again until the 14th Century, when city-states such as Florence, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, and Venice became centers of trade. The influx of wealth and increased trade contact with foreign lands, transformed Italy into Europe’s premier center of culture. Funded by wealthy patrons, figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli, and Galileo, among others, revolutionized the fields of art, literature, politics, and science. Italian explorers, such as Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, introduced Italy and Europe to the rest of the world.

Italy remained a center of power until the 16th century, when trade routes shifted away from the Mediterranean and the Protestant Reformation resulted in the Catholic Church, which was based in Rome, losing influence over much of Northern Europe. Weakened, the various Italian city-states became vulnerable to conquest by Spain, France, and Austria. Italy remained a patchwork of principalities controlled through proxy by various European powers until the 19th century, when the French leader Napoleon supported the unification of Italy as a way of creating a buffer state against his many enemies. With the backing of France, Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi led a popular movement that took over much of Italy in 1861 and would be ending in 1870 with the fall of Rome and complete unification of the country.

Niccolò Machiavelli (wikimedia)

Plagued by internal political divisions and with an economy devastated by war, the new Kingdom of Italy was no Roman Empire. In 1919, frustrated that Italy had received few gains despite having been a victor in the First World War, a politician named Benito Mussolini launched a movement that called for the restoration of Italy as a great power. In 1922, impatient with electoral politics, Mussolini led his supporters, known as Fascists, on a march on Rome to seize power directly through a coup. Spooked, the Italian king did not put up a fight and allowed Mussolini to become supreme ruler of Italy.

Mussolini spent the next twenty years consolidating power and building up the Italian economy, but he never gave up on the idea of restoring Italy as a great power. Calling himself “Il Duce” (meaning Leader), Mussolini dreamed of leading a new Roman Empire. In the 1930s, he indulged his dreams of conquest, by invading Ethiopia and Albania. When the Second World War broke out, Italy remained neutral at first. However, once it appeared through the Fall of France that Germany would win, Mussolini eagerly joined Hitler, a fellow Fascist and longtime ally, in the war effort and rushed to invade Greece, the Balkans, and North Africa. Overextended and unprepared for such a large-scale effort, Italy quickly found that it could not maintain its military position and had to ask Germany for help. Before long, Mussolini saw himself losing control of North Africa, the Mediterranean, and eventually his very own country to the Allies. Fleeing Rome, Mussolini tried to set up a puppet state in Northern Italy but failed. Abandoned by a disgusted Hitler, Il Duce and his mistress were captured and executed by Italian partisans.

After the Second World War, Italy abolished the monarchy and declared itself a republic. With the strong support of the United States, Italy rebuilt its economy through loans from the Marshall Plan, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and became a strong supporter of what is now the European Union. Today, Italy is one of the most prosperous and democratic nations in Europe.

Louis, king of Italy?

On Joseph’s refusal, Napoleon turned to Louis and his offspring. A document was elaborated whereby Napoleon would take the crown as protector until the majority of Louis’s son, who would reign in Milan as Napoleon II. ( Document quoted in Pingaud, Bonaparte, p. 437-8. ) Louis was so aggressively against the plan Napoleon is said to have thrown him out of his office. ( See Frédéric Masson, Napoléon et sa famille, vol. III, p. 20, quoted in Pingaud, Bonaparte, p. 438, n. 1. ) The negotiation had lasted merely three days (27-30 January, 1805). So faced with potential embarrassment on a European scale, Napoleon cut the Gordian knot and decided to take the crown himself. He called a ‘conseil extraordinaire de cabinet’ for 5 February, where he announced to the nineteen people present (amongst whom, Melzi and five Italian deputies, Joseph, Cambacarer, Champagny, Fouché, Murat and Sieyès) that he would take the crown. The fate of Italy had been decided.

1900: The assassination of King Umberto I of Italy

A short account of the assassination of King Umberto I of Italy in revenge for the brutal suppression of a workers' demonstration in Milan which left hundreds dead.

See also our biography of Gaetano Bresci

Occurring a year before the assassination of President McKinley in the US, the attentat against King Umberto I of Italy by silk weaver Gaetano Bresci took place in the midst of argueably the most violent period of anarchist history, when the tactic of "propaganda by the deed" was being employed to the full by individual anarchists.

An immigrant to the US in the late 1890s, Bresci had helped found an Italian anarchist newspaper in the manufacturing town of Paterson, New Jersey. However, in the spring of 1900, Bresci shocked his comrades at the newspaper by asking the return of a loan he had used to help pay the printing costs. Refusing to explain his behaviour, he left the US in May 1900 to seek out King Umberto and commit his attentat.

Landing in La Havre, he made his way to Paris and from there began the long trek to Italy, eventually arriving in the small town of Castel San Pietro near Bologna. Staying at an inn owned by a relative, Bresci acquired a revolver and began target practice in the yard. Hearing of the King's plans to stay at the Royal house in Monza, he quickly departed for Milan and from there made his way to Monza, where he arrived on July 26.

After observing the royal party's movements for several days he decided to act on July 29, while the king was scheduled to distribute prizes to athletes after a sporting competition.

Arriving to scattered applause on the evening of the 29th in an open air carriage, the king climbed the podium and distributed medals to the athletes. After a short word of congratulations, Umberto descended the platform and got back into his carriage. As he sat down, Bresci burst from the crowd brandishing a revolver and fired four times. The king died seconds later having been hit three times in the chest, with one shot going wide of its target. Bresci was quickly tackled by police agents and arrested.

Bresci stood trial and in late August and was found guilty of assassinating the king. After serving less than a year of his life sentence on the island prison of Santo Stefano, he was found dead in his cell, in extremely suspicious circumstances.

Many political assassinations committed during the "propaganda by the deed" period were in response to or in revenge for specific acts of repression. Just as the anarchist Ravachol had seven years earlier launched a bombing campaign against specific members of the French judicial system in response to the deaths of nine people after police had fired on a workers' demonstration, similar reasons had driven Bresci to his attack on King Umberto.

In court, Bresci declared that he had wanted to "avenge the people killed by Bava-Beccaris". The incident that he is referring to, and which throughout his trial he cited as the motivation behind the assassination, occurred in Milan on May 6 1898.

The late 1890s had seen an upsurge in radical activity in Italy. Rising food prices led to many socialist and anarchist inspired strikes and anti-government protests, particularly in the areas of Bologna and Lombardy. By the spring of 1898 the strikes and protests began to spread southwards, gaining momentum in Tuscany and giving extra impetus to the influential anarchist presence there.

As the strike movement began to spread across the country, increasing repression from the authorities followed it. A state of siege was declared across Tuscany in early May due to the increasingly insurrectionary nature of the strikes and protests in the region. Anarchist and socialist press was suppressed and workers suffered brutal attacks at the hands of the police and carabinieri.

The protests came to a head with a massive demonstration in Milan on May 6. Thousands of workers and their families marched towards the Royal Palace in the city, which was under heavy police and military guard. Taking their anger at the high price of bread out on obvious targets, many hungry workers attacked and raided bakeries along the way, taking whatever bread they could lay their hands on. As the rioting approached the palace, troops under the command of General Bava-Beccaris were ordered to fire on the demonstrators. Cannons were fired at zero elevation, and many volleys of rifle fire hit the crowds, some at almost point blank range.

The exact number of people who died on the streets of Milan that day is not known for sure, and estimates wildly differ. Although it is most likely that between 150-400 people were killed with at least 1,000 wounded.

General Bava-Beccaris was later decorated by King Umberto, who told him he had "rendered a great service to the king and to the country".

From when he had first heard of the massacre while working in the silk mills of Paterson, Bresci had never considered that he was to kill just a man. As he declared to his audience seconds before he was arrested on July 29, "I have not shot Umberto. I have killed the king, I have killed a principle". Just as many protagonists of propaganda by the deed before and after him, he had been driven to a violent act, whether considered useful or not to the anarchist cause, in response to a specific act of brutality directed against workers.


The word "dynasty" derives from Latin dynastia, which comes from Greek dynastéia ( δυναστεία ), where it referred to "power", "dominion", and "rule" itself. [4] It was the abstract noun of dynástēs ( δυνάστης ), [5] the agent noun of dynamis ( δύναμις ), "power" or "ability", [6] from dýnamai ( δύναμαι ), "to be able". [7]

A ruler from a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is also used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a throne. For example, King Edward VIII ceased to be a dynast of the House of Windsor following his abdication.

In historical and monarchist references to formerly reigning families, a "dynast" is a family member who would have had succession rights, were the monarchy's rules still in force. For example, after the 1914 assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife, their son Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg, was bypassed for the Austro-Hungarian throne because he was not a Habsburg dynast. Even since the abolition of the Austrian monarchy, Duke Maximilian and his descendants have not been considered the rightful pretenders by Austrian monarchists, nor have they claimed that position.

The term "dynast" is sometimes used only to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm's monarchs, and sometimes to include those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe overlapping but distinct sets of people. For example, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth II, is in the line of succession to the British crown making him a British dynast. On the other hand, since he is not a patrilineal member of the British royal family, he is therefore not a dynast of the House of Windsor.

Comparatively, the German aristocrat Prince Ernst August of Hanover, a male-line descendant of King George III of the United Kingdom, possesses no legal British name, titles or styles (although he is entitled to reclaim the former royal dukedom of Cumberland). He was born in the line of succession to the British throne and was bound by Britain's Royal Marriages Act 1772 until it was repealed when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 took effect on 26 March 2015. [8] Thus, he requested and obtained formal permission from Queen Elizabeth II to marry the Roman Catholic Princess Caroline of Monaco in 1999. Yet, a clause of the English Act of Settlement 1701 remained in effect at that time, stipulating that dynasts who marry Roman Catholics are considered "dead" for the purpose of succession to the British throne. [9] That exclusion, too, ceased to apply on 26 March 2015, with retroactive effect for those who had been dynasts prior to triggering it by marriage to a Roman Catholic. [8]

A "dynastic marriage" is one that complies with monarchical house law restrictions, so that the descendants are eligible to inherit the throne or other royal privileges. The marriage of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to Queen Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002 was dynastic, for example, making their eldest child Princess Catharina-Amalia the heir apparent to the Crown of the Netherlands. However, the marriage of his younger brother Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau in 2003 lacked governmental support and parliamentary approval. Thus, Prince Friso forfeited his place in the order of succession to the Dutch throne, and consequently lost his title as a "Prince of the Netherlands", and left his children without dynastic rights.

Gallery Edit

Zhao Kuangyin, the Emperor Taizu of Song, was the founder of the Song dynasty in China.

Life in Italy during the 19th Century

The 19 th century was a time of great change for Italy, as the modern world emerged, so it’s natural to wonder how was life in Italy during the 19th century. The most prominent events of this time revolve around the rise of the Italian unification movement known as the Risorgimento. It was the social and political process that eventually succeeded in the unification of Italy involving the many city-states that have been united in the modern country of Italy.

The exact dates of the beginning and end of the Risorgimento are unclear, but scholars believe it began at the end of the Napoleonic era, with the Congress of Vienna, in 1815. The process of the unification of Italy ended with the FrancoPrussian War in 1871.

History of Italy in the 19 th Century

The Beginnings of Unification of Italy

The intellectual and social changes that were questioning traditional values and beliefs started in the late 18th century in Italy. The liberal ideas coming from other countries like Britain and France were spreading rapidly through the Italian peninsula. Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of Italy with his most notorious concubine Rosina were also supporting this movement.

The First War for the Italian Independence began with protests in Lombardy and revolts in Sicily. This resulted in four Italian republics creating constitutions in 1848. Pope Pius IX fled Rome and the Roman Republic was then proclaimed upon the arrival of Garibaldi. When Mazzini arrived in Rome, in March 1849, he was appointed Chief Minister of the new Republic.

In the meantime, King Charles Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia joined the war and attempted to drive the Austrians out of the country. It looked like the Italian unification timeline was near. Austrians however eventually managed to successfully defeat Charles Albert in the battle of Novara in 1849, slowing the country’s run towards independence. Victor Emmanuele II however managed to win the battles so he then became the first king after the unification of Italy.

Camillo Benso di Cavour

Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was to become the prime minister of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1852. It was only because of the count’s leadership and policies that the unification of Italy became possible!

Cavour persuaded Napoleon III of France to plan a secret war against Austria. Soon, a war on Italian soil against Austria began. The French troops helped Piedmont defeat Austria in two important battles at Solferino and Magenta. Austria was soon forced to surrender the region of Lombardy, along with the city of Milan, to Napoleon III. In 1859, Napoleon III then handed over the region of Lombardy to King Victor Emmanuel II.

Two years later, thanks to the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the peninsula was unified under the Savoy crown. Turin became the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy Rome was not to become part of unified Italy until 1870. As you can see, the Italian unification timeline was quite long with many different playgrounds.

Italian society in the 19 th century

The Italians of the Risorgimento

In many ways, the roots of several well-known aspects of Italian culture find their origin in the 19th century. The land, the food, and the people were all shaped by warfare, struggle, and the desire for independence. Most of the men who fought for freedom during this period were peasants, seeking a chance for something better. Northern Italy, mostly under the direct influence of Austria and the House of Savoy saw the emergence of industry however, life was hard for most Italians, who remained poor.

Southern Italy fared worse than the North: neglect and the oppression of wealthy European landlords who exploited local peasants to tend their lands created the basis for the later Mafia organizations.

However, it is often through strife that humans are their most creative. This is most evident in the foods of Italy.

Food in Italy

The struggles of the 19 th century saw the introduction of many of our favorite Italian foods. Greedy landowners of Northern Italy, decided long ago to feed their workers with cornmeal, which by now was to the North what pasta was to the South. Poverty made tomatoes, once thought poisonous, a staple of Southern Italian cooking. Pasta, already stable part of a typical southern kitchen, would never be the same.

In all areas of the country various wild plants, considered weeds by many, were incorporated into foods in times of want. However, as the 19 th century went on, these traditional foods of the poor, became common among all classes.

Some, like the Pizza Margherita, became symbols of the newly created Kingdom of Italy. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi, at age 71, completed the first Italian food cookbook.

Life in Italy during the 19th century: Italian Art

Italian music in the 19 th century

Gioacchino Rossini, Italian musician, dies in Paris (1868)

The 19 th century was the time of romantic opera, first initiated by the works of Gioacchino Rossini. However Italian music of the time of the Risorgimento was dominated by Giuseppe Verdi, one of the most influential opera composers of all times. Although modern scholarship has reduced his actual role in the movement of the unification of Italy, for all intents and purposes, the style of Verdi’s works lends itself to being the soundtrack to Risorgimento.

Toward the end of the 1800 ‘popular’ Italian music start appearing – The worldwide known ‘O Sole mio‘ was written in 1898.

Pictures of Life in Italy in the 19th century

enice between 1890 and 1900. Source: Library of Congress Washing in Naples, end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress Turin at the end of the 18th Century. Source: Library of Congress Piazza dell’Annunziata in Genoa. Source: Library of the Congress Florence at the end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress Holiday by Lake Garda at the end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress